Thule Trailblazer hitch rack (998xt)
I went a bit crazy last night and ordered one of these from ORS. It was discounted about 20% from list ($327 from $409 & free shipping). It is an expensive beast, but the 'swing away' feature of this or the top line Yakima Full Swing was very appealing to me. Plus, it comes with the cable and fixed locks, three point antisway holddowns, etc. Everything looks to be a huge improvement over the Rhodeway rack I have been suffering with for the past few years.
I recently put a receiver hitch on my Honda Odyssey minivan, so a larger, 2" unit was now possible. I am so tired of not being able to easily get into the back after loading on the bikes. Hoping to now be able to take the bikes on vacation trips without as much stress on either the assembly (or me).
Anyone with any experience or comments before they ship?
Double Secret Probation
Works like a charm, we added one to our roof rack last year. 4 bikes up top, 4 off the back. I still tend to like the roof rack for long trip (4+ hours), but the Thule is great to just toss the bike on a go. And you could easily use it for a long trip as well. On vacation we just leave the bikes on it the whole week, and take them everywhere we drive. The hotel has a nice parking garage, but no real bike storage.
I came to a revelation on Sunday, and put a hold on the order. Realized that the "stinger", the hitch receiver insert on the Thule is a straight piece about 12" long. That means that I now have a lot of hardware (the entire swing arm) below the bumper level trailing a foot behind the van, barely 9 inches off the ground. A sloped driveway coming off of flat pavement would now be a hazard.
While I don't like some of the design features of the Yakima quite as much, it has an upswept stinger of only 7 inches long, placing the swing arm at bumper level, and well protected.
I got in touch with ORS this morning, and they confirmed that they have received a Thule backed pretty scraped up from road contact. It is a fine design for SUV's with a typical receiver sitting 15+ inches off the ground, but not a good fit with a low riding minivan.
They were great about it, and gave me a similar (20%) discount off of the Yakima Full Swing 4 in place of the Thule. It's base price is $20 higher to begin with, so it is costing me a bit more, but at least I will have something that does not put the bikes, rack or vehicle at risk. Received confirmation this afternoon that it shipped. Good customer service!
I am not familiar with the Rhodeway racks. Is that the company that makes racks for Performance? What were your issues with it?